Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

November 1, 2006

Analysis: Wizard’s Convention Moves

You may nor may not be familiar with the just-announced slate of Wizard Entertainment conventions for 2007 and 2008.

Wizard World Los Angeles: March 16-18, 2007
Wizard World Philadelphia: June 15-17, 2007
Wizard World Chicago: August 9-12, 2007
Wizard World Texas: Nov 2-4, 2007

Wizard World Los Angeles: April 12-14, 2008
Wizard World Philadelphia: May 29-June 1, 2008
Wizard World Chicago: June 26-29, 2008
Wizard World Texas: November 7-9, 2008

Most of what I'm reading and hearing from folks on the phone and in e-mail about the schedule focus on two worthy areas of interest: 1) Wizard won't be trying to extend into the southeast for a while after being burned when plans for an Atlanta show in 2006 leaked and some disputed dates were brought into the equation and creators rallied around Charlotte's Heroes Con, 2) Chicago in 2008 is being moved into late June/early July perhaps in order to no longer exist in the shadow of San Diego's Comic-Con International, the success of which has perhaps made WW Chicago a) skippable in the wider scheme of things, b) a hangover con of burned-out creators, c) a wild gathering of drunk people barely holding onto their sanity after a summer of weekends spent at various comics events.

I don't disagree with either take, but some additional things jump out at me: 1) The fact that you can manipulate some of these convention's schedules by a month or so -- I'm looking at Los Angeles in particular -- seems to me to indicate that none of them have truly captured the attention and imagination of their region in a way that you might have hoped by now, 2) WW Philly moving back seems to be leaving an even wider window for Heroes Con, 3) WW Chicago moving to June/July puts it more in touch with the old Chicago Con's traditional July 4th holiday weekend scheduling, which did sort of seem to work for that part of the country, 4) This may be wishful thinking on my part about how many younger people attend, but moving WW Chicago out of August moves the convention away from schools reopening, Fall sports team practices and last weekend of the summer family planning. When I was a teen and we road-tripped to Chicago, we didn't go back to school until after Labor Day. Now kids where I grew up go back to class August 10-15. I know if it had been in September when I grew up, I never would have attended.

The positive, then, is that these all seem like sensible, logical moves.

The negative is that the moves seem a bit more necessary than I bet the move-makers would like for them to be. My gut feeling is that what we're seeing is fallout from the Atlanta fiasco, but also weakness in what until this year seemed like momentum in Philadelphia and Chicago and anticipation for an LA show. It's nothing I can prove, but I honestly felt as an outside observer right after those three shows took place this year that the momentum enjoyed by Philly and Chicago dissipated and that LA didn't live up to expectations. If you had said a year ago that the Wizard show with the fewest questions was Texas, no one would have believed you. All in all, Wizard's results call for a conservative slate, and hard work ahead trying to make those shows a success before building on them... or cutting even further.
posted 8:03 pm PST | Permalink

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